In the Chiredzi district of Masvingo province, hell hath no fury like climate extremes. The district has seen its fair share of climatic shocks ranging from relentless high temperature extremes to increased frequency in hailstorms and flash floods while drought has become a norm.
Like Chiredzi, many other districts in Zimbabwe are increasingly becoming vulnerable to similar and more severe climatic shocks. In the absence of long-term adaptation measures, climate change continues to create a state of vulnerability to climate impacts in these communities with women being the worst affected.
Experts say that this situation is not unique. The effects of climate change are predicted to exacerbate the already existing challenges faced by developing nations, with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa—including Zimbabwe—being hardest hit.
Against this background, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (MEWC) has embarked on the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) development process which seeks to develop medium to long term approaches for reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts and facilitating the integration of climate adaptation into ongoing planning processes at national and sub- national levels.
The NAP development process is championed under the Scaling up Adaptation in Zimbabwe through Strengthening Integrated Planning Systems Project, an initiative led by the Government of Zimbabwe supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
”The centre-piece of the plan is to ensure that climate change remains the central focal point around which livelihoods are anchored in Zimbabwe” says Ms Emily Matingo who is a Climate Change Scientist based at the Adaptation Office in the Department of Climate Change Management of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.
“This can be achieved through creation of local area adaptation plans (LAAPs), district adaption plans (DAPs), provincial adaption plans (PAPs) and ultimately, a National Adaptation Plan” she adds.
In this regard, Zimbabwe has already made some significant strides. A National Climate Change Response Strategy has already been developed. This is the first stage in the development of NAPs. The strategy provides a baseline for the development of the NAPs. In addition, the National Climate Change Response Strategy also provides a firm foundation upon which the NAP will be built on—mainly as a way to integrate climate risk into national development planning, policies,
“In Zimbabwe, we are seeking to develop our National Adaptation Plan that is country-driven, country-owned and gender-sensitive. This participatory approach will avoid duplication of efforts. It will also take into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems” explains Ms Matingo noting that the process will be guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional and
As a flexible process that builds on the country’s existing adaptation activities and helps integrate climate change into national decision-making, the NAP is thus strategic for the country in shaping its Climate Policy, implementing the National Climate Change Response Strategy and exploring ways of up-scaling development as it supports domestic decision-making.
Currently, consultations are underway across the country. The consultations allow concerns and issues from all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe to be captured and these will be fed into the final NAP document.
Meanwhile, to ensure value addition on coherent integration of climate change into policy, strategic and sectorial planning and programming, a stocktaking process has also commenced. This is aimed at undertaking a comprehensive inventory of the NAP process through assessing gaps and needs and through identifying national and sectorial information available on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.
Furthermore, the development of district—and provincial—adaptation plans is necessary. This will provide a database on each and every area, highlighting the weather conditions that prevail in that area, past and current climatic shocks and their impact, the risks and vulnerabilities of the area, future climate change scenarios and an inventory of assets and investments present in the respective areas so as to efficiently plan for their use in a bid to make the communities resilient to the vagaries of climate change.
The formulation of district adaptation plans will initially target 15 districts districts, namely; Chiredzi, Buhera, Chimanimani, Beitbridge, Binga, Bubi, Matobo, Umguza, Mangwe, Gwanda, Umzigwane, Tsholotsho, Bulilima, Mwenezi and Zaka.
Subsequently, Climate Risk Management technical working groups have been established in 12 of the 15 targeted districts. These groups will lead the process of formulating the district adaptation plans (DAPs) and ultimately championing the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in development planning and budgeting processes in their respective districts.
It is of great importance that local area adaptation plans take into consideration aspects such as climate proofing of infrastructure; use of sustainable land-use systems that enhance agricultural production, ensure food security and nutrition and maintain ecosystem integrity; the importance of including women in the coming up of local adaptation strategies since climate change impacts have never been gender neutral and the instigation of stiff penalties against veld fires, unlawful mining and cutting down of trees
The development of NAP marks a milestone in Zimbabwe’s contribution to global efforts to combat the impact of climate change. Following the Nationally Determined Contributions which were submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015 indicating how Zimbabwe would reduce its major Greenhouse Gases (from energy sector) and enhance adaptation efforts in the agriculture sector, Zimbabwe will use NAPs to make formal adaptation contributions to global collective action on climate change, or express such contributions with reference to their
Successful completion of the NAP process will also go a long way towards assisting Zimbabwe to unlock various climate financing mechanisms under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including bilateral and multilateral channels as well as those from Adaptation and Green Climate Funds.